Read review, 'Villers-Bocage through the lens' from After the battle. | Armorama™

This book adds to the established narrative and clears up a myth around Michael WITTMANN.

This is partial text from the full article (usually with photos) at

I have this book. However, my understanding is that subsequent research has challenged some of the conclusions reached here, specifically the Tiger number used by Wittmann for his initial attack. Still a good book for photos though and points out how the German Propaganda Kompanie spliced two photos together to make the destruction look worse.

I flipped through a copy of this book a while ago. Reading about Villers-Bocage was particularly interesting to me. I’ve read a few accounts of it over the years including in a two volume biography of Wittmann by Stackpole. A couple of my takeaways is that Wittmann’s Tiger was sick that day, so he jumped in another one when he started his rampage. I was also struck by the number of British survivors’ accounts. The number of photographs in this book that I’ve not seen before though, well worth making a copy for myself.

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hi, are you able to give the title(s) where there is contrasting accounts, please; I’d be interesting in reading to see how different the book is to the research. thanks for that.

JP, yes, there are some great images in the book, which support the narrative nicely.

In fact Wittmann changed tanks twice before the attack, not including the loss of the Tiger subsequently. He first jumped into “222” only to be advised by the crew that it had an engine fault.

I would have to do a bit of research, but I think I have at least one of the titles. At the time I bought “Through the Lens”, it seemed to be the ultimate research project on the subject. There has also been extensive discussion on this forum, but I really can’t remember when or how to link it. Perhaps one of the others could help?

I have a first edition print of the VB-Through the Lens, and at the time it was first published, it was the authoritative reference on the battle. However, today it’s a bit dated and newer information has come to light along with more detailed analysis of the terrain and other details.

Right now, for my money, the best reference on the subject is:

Villers-Bocage, autopsie d’une bataille

Unfortunately, it is only available in French (not even any English captions). I’ve been told by a book importer here in the US that there have been some copyright issues with some of the Editions Heimdal books that keep some of them from being translated and imported. I don’t know the details or accuracy of this, but for whatever reasons, it’s a darned shame. This particular book would be a great seller if it was translated for a broader market.

At any rate, with some patience, the language barrier can be overcome. The Through the Lens book probably remains the best English language reference, but sadly, it comes up short nowadays when compared to the Frédéric Deprun and Yann Jouault work.

That’s right! I forgot about that. Thanks for reminding me. Must be aggravating to have to play the Panzer version of musical chairs before riding off into history.

So this book is actually a re-issue? I don’t know anything about this book or the other reference. I’m curious, what are some of the new bits of information the French book contains? I’m always fascinated by how further research brings up things missed, or presents a better translation of what’s already known.

I don’t have the “Autopsy” book in front of me, and it has been a couple of years since I read it. What follows is from memory (which is no doubt faulty).

The “Autopsy” book covers a lot of detail in the approach march phase of the German Tiger battalion which leads up to the status of Wittmann and the tank he commanded on the day of. There’s a lot of new analysis on the Tiger tank markings and colors, and a more detailed analysis and different conclusion on which tank he actually used in the battle. (The evidence is presented and analyzed, but it’s still speculative, although, IMO, soundly reasoned out.) There’s also considerably more information on the activities of the rest of the Tiger tanks on the day of and in subsequent combat, to include areas around, but not immediately in, the town, VB.

I don’t want to sound too critical of the “Through the Lens” book, which I think pretty much gets the basics down correctly. It is, however, a product of what was known at the time (along with some very good analysis), and I wouldn’t characterize it as having “issues” as much as saying that it’s “incomplete and dated.” “Autopsy” provides a generally much more comprehensive and up to date study of the battle.

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There’s a discussion of which Tiger Wittmann used at VB here: Michael Wittmann Tiger 1 Question - Armor/AFV / WWII Axis - KitMaker Network
I did comment on it, but do not take my comments as gospel!

Dan Taylor is working on an updated and enlarged book I believe.